The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Argus (Kingston, ON), June 23, 1848

Full Text



As we received no intelligence by Telegraph last evening about this unfortunate vessel, we presume the attempt to float her, contemplated on Thursday, has proved unsuccessful.

The wreck of the Dawn is a warning to those navigating the Lachine Rapids which, we presume, will not be disregarded. The peculiar circumstances of the case, however, will tend to remove any unnecessary prejudice against running the rapids, for if the channel had been clear thedisaster to the Dawn would not, in all probability, have occurred.

We think the Government might, with great propriety, adopt some regulations for the navigation of the most dangerous rapids, by which at certain periods of the day rafts would not be permitted to descend. The time at which the Mail Steamers pass down might be regulated with certainty - and they being strictly speaking passenger vessels, should be protected from all avoidable risk.

Steamboat Disaster.

The steamer Empire, owned by Capt. Jacob Bonter, and sailed by his son, on coming into port this morning from Belleville, heavily laden with Flour and Potash, and several passengers, was careened over by the wind on nearing Garratt's Wharf, and almost instantly filled and sunk in twelve feet water.

The passengers had barely time to escape with their lives. After it was supposed that all had reached the wharf, a noise was heard under the upper deck, and on its being cut through, an aged man and woman were rescued from their perilous situation.

The hull and lading of the steamer are all under water.

The wind was blowing a gale at the time of the disaster.

Kingston and Chicago.

The public is not generally aware that there is a regular line of first class Steam Propellers plying regularly between Kingston and Chicago, which touch at all the principle American ports on Lakes Ontario, Erie and Michigan. The splendid vessels Genessee Chief, Syracuse, James Wood, Ontario, etc., form the line, one of which leaves Kingston for Chicago about the latter end of each week. These vessels generally run down the river as far as Ogdensburgh, chiefly for passengers going West, as their down freight, consisting of Wheat, Flour, Corn and Pork, and other productions of the far West, is left at Oswego, to be forwarded to the seaboard via the Oswego and Erie Canals. If the free navigation of the St. Lawrence is conceded to our neighbors, these Propellers would no doubt deliver most of their cargoes in Montreal, there to be shipped in American sea-going vessels for Europe, and other distant ports, but in many cases we believe these steamers, as well as our own Lake and River freight steamers will descend the river to the Ocean, and eventually perform most of the coasting trade of the Gulf of the St. Lawrence and Eastern States.

Messrs. E. Browne & Co., Wharfingers and Forwarders of this city, are the Agents for the vessels to which we have referred above.

Steamer City of Toronto - We learn with much regret, that the fine Steamer City of Toronto experienced some damage to her machinery, on her voyage up on Sunday last. Until the necessary repairs are effected, the Steamer Admiral will be withdrawn from the Oswego route and supply the place of the City between this and Kingston. [Toronto Colonist]


Wreck of the Dawn.

The steamer Dawn, belonging to Messrs. H. Jones & Co., forwarders, was wrecked, yesterday morning, in the Lachine Rapids. She left Lachine about four a.m., and in striving to avoid some rafts which were unfortunately descending the rapids at the same time, she deviated from her regular course, and before she could regain the channel she struck the rocks twice, and the second time was thrown so high that she could not be got off. The captain strove to lighten her by throwing overboard her deck load, but his efforts were of no avail. The Dawn had on board about sixty passengers and 2,000 barrels of flour.Twelve of the passengers were taken off the wreck by some individuals who pick up a kind of livelihood from the casualties on the rapids, and who, knowing that they could not be landed without their assistance, had the audacity to demand four dollars from each of them. The remainder of the passengers demurred at this extortion, and preferred to await the arrival of the barges, which were despatched, as soon as possible, to the scene of the disaster, and were, we believe, taken off in the course of yesterday afternoon.

The Dawn was insured at £3,500, which is considerably below her value. The wreck lies right in the way of rafts descending the rapids,one of which struck her, and carried off a part of her bulwarks. The Mail steamer Gildersleeve had also a very narrow escape from coming into collision with her, missing her only by a few inches. The following letter, thrown on a passing raft by the captain, explains his position:

Steamer Dawn,

Tuesday morning, June 20th, 1848.

Gentlemen: We left Lachine this morning to run the Lachine Rapids, with Jock, the Indian, as our pilot, and, in descending the Rapids, we struck several times, and we are now aground on the rocks opposite the island that has the telegraph pole on. We threw overboard all our deckload, in hopes of lightening her, to get off, but could not do it. We are now filled with water, and are afraid that the vessel is very much injured. Her seams are all open, and engine frame a good deal removed from line, and our boiler removed from its place.

You will please send us two barges, and some assistance as soon as possible, as I fear some rafts will run into us.

I remain, Gentlemen,

Your obedient servant,

W.J. Johnson [Montreal Gazette, Wednesday]

The Steamer Commerce - This beautiful vessel arrived at Port Stanley on Sunday evening last, at 8 o'clock, having left Montreal on Thursday, at 1 o'clock, P.M. In addition to a large freight, she brought also a Company of Foot Artillery, and their baggage. When we brought this news up from Port Stanley, some of our merchantmen pronounced it impossible; they had often in the olden time, congratulated themselves upon receiving goods from Montreal in fourteen days; but four days was past comprehension. Upon expressing our regret that she could not take passengers, we were informed by her Agent, F.A. Hoadley, Esquire, that passengers accommodation would be added as speedily as possible. She returns immediately with the Company of Artillery that has been relieved here. [London Wes. Canadian]

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Original:
June 23, 1848
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Rick Neilson
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
WWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

Argus (Kingston, ON), June 23, 1848